Menu

Timesdelhi.com

March 23, 2019
Category archive

Bitcoin

Bitcoin gets slower, smaller and more like Ethereum

in Bitcoin/blockchain/Blockstream/cryptocurrency/Delhi/ethereum/Finance/India/Politics/stellar by

Editor’s Note: Our writer Galen Moore (who previously wrote an analysis of STOs) attended the MIT Bitcoin Expo this weekend. These are his field notes on his interviews with a bunch of the leading thinkers in the Bitcoin community, along with links to the full audio if you want to go deeper. ~ Danny Crichton

The MIT Bitcoin Expo is not really about Bitcoin, per se. Many other cryptocurrencies are discussed. Sometimes, warring factions find themselves in the same room.

On the Friday night before the main event, a Boston Ethereum developers group hosted a Bitcoin maximalist VC and the CEO of a private-key custody company for “a conversation on Lightning and the future of Bitcoin.”

It was a frank conversation in front of a room full of people who may have been skeptical about the future of Bitcoin. Castle Island Ventures general partner Nic Carter allowed that Bitcoin’s fixed money supply might become a liability. Jeremy Welch, CEO of Casa, acknowledged that Lightning is not going to solve all of Bitcoin’s problems.

For example, Lightning makes sending and receiving bitcoin faster, cheaper and a little more private, but questions remain as to how such Bitcoin payments will be useful.

Developing (and not developing) the future of Bitcoin

James Prestwich of Summa. Photo by Galen Moore

Carter and Welch’s conversation turned to ossification, a proposed drawdown of developer activity on Bitcoin to guard against future attacks. One Ethereum developer leaned back to ask me what ossification means. “Turning into bone,” I said. He looked a little mystified. Misunderstandings remain between followers of the two largest cryptocurrencies. Ethereum developers remain in a kind of “move fast and break things” mindset, while Bitcoin developers treat their codebase like it was software for air traffic control.

There are some who are trying to bridge the gap. James Prestwich’s consulting firm, Summa, helps Ethereum developers that want to use Bitcoin. Beyond reaching a bigger market, this has technical advantages, Prestwich said. We were drinking pineapple-strawberry Lacroix before his presentation about a better way to handle cross-chain transactions.

“Most Ethereum developers work on contracts and not consensus layer,” he said. “Contracts are not as abstracted from consensus as we like to think they are. It’s a very messy, leaky layer. The advantages here are more on the consensus layer, but that’s going to affect how your smart contract works.” The full audio of my interview with Prestwich is here and a recording of all the presentations at MIT Bitcoin Expo 2019 can be found here.

News Source = techcrunch.com

eToro bringing crypto trading and wallet to the US

in Apps/Bitcoin/blockchain/ceo/coinbase/cryptocurrencies/cryptocurrency/Delhi/digital currencies/digital wallet/Economy/ethereum/etoro/Finance/fintech/India/money/Politics/Ripple/Robinhood/social network/Startups/stock market/stock trading/TC/Trader/United States by

eToro, the social investing and trading platform, announced that it will finally be launching its platform in the US. The platform, which already operates in more than 140 countries, will be available in 30 states and two territories with plans to expand elsewhere in the US after receiving the necessary regulatory sign-offs.

The US platform will only support trading for crypto assets at launch, but eToro plans to add additional asset classes within the next 12 months. In eToro’s existing markets, the company’s ten million-plus users are able to trade and hold over 1,500 different asset classes and markets, including stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, fiat currencies, commodities and more.

Though eToro even supports more advanced trading strategies – including short-selling and the use of leverage – the platform’s transparency and community engagement features act as great tools for beginners to learn the capital markets and learn how to trade.

eToro is equal parts trading platform, social network and educational resource. Anyone who signs up for eToro can see, comment and copy the trading activity of everyone else on the network, as well as their realized returns and losses to date (though only on a percentage basis to protect sensitive financial information). While learning from the strategies of their peers, users can opt to invest with virtual currency to practice and effectively train before actually risking their own money.

Alternatively, based on a trader’s track record, other users can choose to mimic their portfolio through eToro’s “CopyTrader” feature, which not only proportionally allocates funds to match the trader’s portfolio but can also automatically make any trade the copied investor makes. On top of that, members are also able to share, comment on, engage with or follow specific users, assets, or markets – allowing them to participate in the latest debate and news regarding their particular area of interest.

Despite being limited to crypto at launch, almost all the same features available in eToro’s existing geographical markets will be available in the US. And alongside its trading platform, the company is also launching its digital multi-signature eToro wallet where users can store, send and receive multiple coins across a multitude of cryptocurrencies.

Using their eToro accounts, US users can now transfer cryptocurrencies to and from their trading account and can easily convert between them as well. The wallet initially will support Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple and Stellar for US users but the company plans to make additional currencies available in the near future.

eToro users can make transactions, share trading activities, and portfolio performance with the community, allowing users to discuss ideas that are executed using real dollars.

The expansion plan, however, doesn’t come without risk. eToro is entering a competitive marketplace – alongside other popular trading platforms like Coinbase and Robinhood – and is launching its crypto-only version in the midst of “crypto winter”, where widespread weakness has plagued the sector.

Part of the strategy is attributable to the fact that crypto is a lighter lift from a licensing perspective relative to other asset classes in the strict and highly fragmented US regulatory environment. But eToro’s launch strategy is also firmly rooted in the company’s belief in the immense market opportunity that exists with the tokenization of assets.

“We think [the tokenization of assets] is a bigger opportunity than the internet and we have to be in the US when it happens given its the financial hub in the world,” eToro founder and CEO Yoni Assia said in a conversation with TechCrunch.

eToro is taking a long-term view with its strategy and isn’t thrown by the current crypto weakness. Assia equated the market softness to the dotcom bubble, where despite the crash, the internet still permeated and disrupted the economy in the long-run. And just like with the internet, Assia and eToro believe there will be more than enough room for multiple winners in the broader crypto ecosystem.

The company was the first platform in its markets to support Ethereum and Ripple and believes that as similar currencies and the next generation of investors mature, eToro will be there to support them wherever they are in whatever way they need.

“When I founded eToro, I envisioned a community where people could trade, invest and share their knowledge in a simple and transparent way,” said Assia. “eToro also acts as a bridge between the old world of investing and a blockchain-powered future, helping our users navigate and benefit from the transition to crypto assets for wealth building.”

News Source = techcrunch.com

HTC’s blockchain phone can now be purchased with fiat currency

in Bitcoin/blockchain/cryptocurrency/Delhi/Hardware/HTC/India/mobile/mwc/mwc 2019/Politics by

Until now, the Exodus 1 has, fittingly, only been available for purchase with cryptocurrency. Starting today, however, interested parties will be able to pick HTC’s blockchain phone up through more traditional means, including USD, which prices the handset at a not unreasonable $699.

One assumes, of course, if you’ve got enough of an interested in purchasing a blockchain phone that they’ve already got a bit of Bitcoin, Ether or Litecoin lying about. This move, however, is very clearly about helping growing the product beyond its initial soft launch. When the device was released last year, HTC was pretty clearly expecting to sell it in limited quantities to users who could essentially help beta test the product in the wild.

HTC Decentralized Chief Officer Phil Chen calls the product the company’s 1.0 solution. In fact, it’s planning to create a formal bounty program to discover and patch potential exploits.

But HTC has long held that a device like this will play an important role in the future of a company struggling to find its way as it feels the burn of a stagnating mobile industry. As project head and Chen told me on stage at a TechCrunch event  in Shenzhen last year that HTC is “as committed as they are to the Vive. I don’t think it’s number one of the priority list, but I would say it’s number three or four.”

When I spoke to Chen again this month, just ahead of today’s Mobile World Congress announcement, he told me that HTC currently has 25 engineers committed to the project. It’s perhaps not a huge number in the grand scheme of a company the size of HTC, but it’s a sizable chunk of manpower, considering the fact that the product is mostly built using existing HTC hardware. The company has also brought in outside help like blockchain security expert Christopher Allen to make sure things are as secure as possible.

And indeed, I’ve been carrying an Exodus One around for about a week now, and it feels like a pretty standard HTC handset, both in terms of hardware and Android software, right down to the inclusion the size-squeezing Edge Sense.

News Source = techcrunch.com

The plot to revive Mt. Gox and repay victims’ Bitcoin

in Apps/Banking/Bitcoin/blockchain/Brock Pierce/coinlab/cryptocurrency/cryptocurrency exchange/Delhi/Developer/Gox Rising/India/lawsuit/mt.gox/Payments/peter vessenes/Politics/Security/Startups/Sunlot/TC by

It was the Lehman Brothers of blockchain. 850,000 Bitcoin disappeared when cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox imploded in 2014 after a series of hacks. The incident cemented the industry’s reputation as frighteningly insecure. Now a controversial crypto celebrity named Brock Pierce is trying to get the Mt. Gox flameout’s 24,000 victims their money back and build a new company from the ashes.

Pierce spoke to TechCrunch for the first interview about Gox Rising — his plan to reboot the Mt. Gox brand and challenge Coinbase and Binance for the title of top cryptocurrency exchange. He claims there’s around $630 million and 150,000 Bitcoin waiting in the Mt. Gox bankruptcy trust, and Pierce wants to solve the legal and technical barriers to getting those assets distributed back to their rightful owners.

The consensus from several blockchain startup CEOs I spoke with was that the plot is “crazy”, but that it also has the potential to right one of the biggest wrongs marring the history of Bitcoin.

The Fall Of Mt. Gox

But the story starts with Magic: The Gathering. Mt. Gox launched in 2006 as a place for players of the fantasy card game to trade monsters and spells before cryptocurrency came of age. The Magic: The Gathering Online eXchange wasn’t designed to safeguard huge quantities of Bitcoin from legions of hackers, but founder Jed McCaleb pivoted the site in 2010. Seeking to focus on other projects, he gave 88 percent of the company to French software engineer Mark Karpeles, and kept 12 percent. By 2013, the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox had become the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, handling 70 percent of all Bitcoin trades. But security breaches, technology problems, and regulations were already plaguing the service.

Then everything fell apart. In February 2014, Mt. Gox halted withdrawls due to what it called a bug in Bitcoin, trapping assets in user accounts. Mt. Gox discovered that it had lost over 700,000 Bitcoins due to theft over the past few years. By the end of the month, it had suspended all trading and filed for bankruptcy protection, which would contribute to a 36 percent decline in Bitcoin’s price. It admitted that 100,000 of its own Bitcoin atop 750,000 owned by customers had been stolen.

Mt. Gox is now undergoing bankruptcy rehabilitation in Japan overseen by court-appointed trustee and veteran bankruptcy lawyer Nobuaki Kobayashi to establish a process for compensating the 24,000 victims who filed claims. There’s now 137,892 Bitcoin, 162,106 Bitcoin Cash, and some other forked coins in Mt. Gox’s holdings, along with $630 million from the sale of 25 percent of the Bitcoin Kobayashi handled at a precient price point above where it is today. But five years later, creditors still haven’t been paid back. 

A Rescue Attempt

Brock Pierce, the eccentric crypto celebrity

Pierce had actually tried to acquire Mt. Gox in 2013. The child actor known from The Mighty Ducks had gone on to work with a talent management company called Digital Entertainment Network. But accusations of sex crime led Pierce and some team members to flee the US to Spain until they were extradited back. Pierce wasn’t charged and paid roughly $21,000 to settle civil suits, but his cohorts were convicted of child molestation and child pornography.

The situation still haunts Pierce’s reputation and makes some in the industry apprehensive to be associated with him. But he managed to break into the virtual currency business, setting up World Of Warcraft gold mining farms in China. He claims to have eventually run the world’s largest exchanges for WOW Gold and Second Life Linden Dollars.

Soon Pierce was becoming a central figure in the blockchain scene. He co-founded Blockchain Capital, and eventually the EOS Alliance as well as a “crypto utopia” in Puerto Rico called Sol. His eccentric, Burning Man-influenced fashion made him easy to spot at the industry’s many conferences.

As Bitcoin and Mt. Gox rose in late 2012, Pierce tried to buy it, but “my biggest investor was Goldman Sachs. Goldman was not a fan of me buying the biggest Bitcoin exchange” due to the regulatory issues, Pierce tells me. But he also suspected the exchange was built on a shaky technical foundation that led him to stop pursuing the deal. “I thought there was a big risk factor in the Mt. Gox back-end. That was may intuition and I’m glad I was because my intuition was dead right.”

After Mt. Gox imploded, Pierce claims his investment group Sunlot Holdings successfully bought founder McCaleb’s 12 percent stake for 1 Bitcoin, though McCaleb says he didn’t receive the Bitcoin and it’s not clear if the deal went through. Pierce also claims he had a binding deal with Karpeles to buy the other 88 percent of Mt. Gox, but that Karpeles tried to pull out of the deal that remains in legal limbo.

The Supposed Villain

The Sunlot has since been trying to handle the bankruptcy proceedings, but that arrangement was derailed by a lawsuit from CoinLab. That company had partnered with Mt. Gox to run its North American operations but claimed it never received the necessary assets, and sued Mt. Gox for $75 million, though Mt. Gox countersued saying CoinLab wasn’t legally certified to run the exchange in the US and that it hadn’t returned $5.3 million in customer deposits. For a detailed account the tangle of lawsuits, check out Reuters’ deep-dive into the Mt. Gox fiasco.

CoinLab co-founder Peter Vessenes

This week, CoinLab co-founder Peter Vessenes increased the claim and is now seeking $16 billion. Pierce alleges “this is a frivolous lawsuit. He’s claiming if [the partnership with Mt. Gox] hadn’t been cancelled, CoinLab would have been Coinbase and is suing for all the value. He believes Coinbase is worth $16 billion so he should be paid $16 billion. He embezzled money from Mt. Gox, he committed a crime, and he’s trying to extort the creditors. He’s holding up the entire process hoping he’ll get a payday.” Later, Pierce reiterated that “Coinlab is the villain trying to take all the money and see creditors get nothing.” Industry sources I spoke to agreed with that characterization

Mt. Gox customers worried that they might only receive the cash equivalent of their Bitcoin according to the currency’s $486 value when Gox closed in 2014. That’s despite the rise in Bitcoin’s value rising to around 7X that today, and as high as 40X at the currency’s peak. Luckily, in June 2018 a Japanese District Court halted bankruptcy proceedings and sent Mt. Gox into civil rehabilitation which means the company’s assets would be distributed to its creditors (the users) instead of liquidated. It also declared that users would be paid back their lost Bitcoin rather than the old cash value.

The Plan For Gox Rising

Now Pierce and Sunlot are attempting another rescue of Mt. Gox’s  $1.2 billion assets. He wants to track down the remaining cryptocurrency that’s missing, have it all fairly valued, and then distribute the maximum amount to the robbed users with Mt. Gox equity shareholders including himself receiving nothing.

That’s a much better deal for creditors than if Mt. Gox paid out the undervalued sum, and then shareholders like Pierce got to keep the remaining Bitcoins or proceeds of their sale at today’s true value. “I‘ve been very blessed in my life. I did commit to giving my first billion away” Pierce notes, joking that this plan could account for the first $700 million he plans to ‘donate’.

“Like Game Of Thrones, the last season of Mt. Gox hasn’t been written” Pierce tells me, speaking in terms HBO’s Silicon Valley would be quick to parody. “What kind of ending do we want to make for it? I’m a Joseph Campbell fan so I’m obviously going to go with a hero’s journey, with a rise and a fall, and then a rise from the ashes like a phoenix.”

But to make this happen, Sunlot needs at least half of those Mt. Gox users seeking compensation, or roughly 12,000 that represent the majority of assets, to sign up to join a creditors committee. That’s where GoxRising.com comes in. The plan is to have users join the committee there so they can present a united voice to Kobayashi about how they want Mt. Gox’s assets distributed. “I think that would allow the process to move faster than it would otherise. Things are on track to be resolved in the next three to five years. If [a majority of creditors sign on] this could be resolved in maybe 1 year.

Beyond providing whatever the Mt. Gox estate pays out, Pierce wants to create a Gox Coin that gives original Mt Gox creditors a stake in the new company. He plans to have all of Mt. Gox’s equity wiped out, including his own. Then he’ll arrange to finance and tokenize an independent foundation governed by the creditors that will seek to recover additional lost Mt. Gox assets and then distribute them pro rata to the Gox Coin holders. There are plenty of unanswered questions about the regulatory status of a Gox Coin and what holders would be entitled to, Pierce admits.

Meanwhile, Pierce is bidding to buy the intangibles of Mt. Gox, aka the brand and domain. He wants to then relaunch it as a Gox or Mt. Gox exchange that doesn’t provide custody itself for higher security.

“We want to offer [creditors] more than the bankruptcy trustee can do on its own” Pierce tells me. He concedes that the venture isn’t purely altruistic. “If the exchange is very successful I stand to benefit sometime down the road.” Still, he stands by his plan, even if the revived Mt. Gox never rises to legitimately challenge Binance, Coinbase, and other leading exchanges. Pierce concludes, “Whether we’re successful or not, I want to see the creditors made whole.” Those creditors will have to decide for themselves who to trust.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Crypto mining giant Bitmain is reportedly getting a new CEO as its IPO plan stalls

in Asia/author/Bitcoin/Bitmain/blockchain/ceo/China/cryptocurrencies/cryptocurrency/Delhi/digital currencies/Economy/Finance/India/Jihan Wu/miner/mining/money/Politics by

Bitmain, the Chinese crypto miner maker, looks like it has reached an interesting point in its pathway to going public. There’s been little heard since the company filed to go public in Hong Kong in September, but now it appears that a new CEO has been hired and its two founders are leaving.

That’s according to a report from SCMP which — citing two sources — said Wang Haichao, Bitmain’s director of product engineering, has assumed CEO duties following a transition that began in December. Founders Wu Jihan (pictured above) and Zhan Ketuan will be co-chairs with Wang described as the “potential successor.”

The publication said that it isn’t clear when a new CEO will be named, or indeed whether an outside appointment will be made.

Bitmain declined to comment on the report when asked by TechCrunch.

The company, which is said to have been valued as high as $15 billion, certainly appears to have stalled with its IPO following the filing of an application on September 26. That document opened up a treasure trove of financial information regarding the company, which is estimated to supply around three-quarters of the world’s crypto mining machines.

Indeed, Bitmain’s IPO filing showed heady growth in revenue. The company grossed more than $2.5 billion in revenue in 2017, a near-10X leap on the $278 million it claimed for 2016, while sales in the first six months of last year surpassed $2.8 billion.

However, there were no figures for Q3 2018 and, since September, the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency has plummeted further still, therein reducing the appeal of buying a mining machine and likely impacting Bitmain’s sales.

Bitmain saw impressive revenue growth as the crypto market grew, but it isn’t clear how the business weathered the price slump that affected the market in 2017

We reported that the company likely made a loss of around $400 million in that Q3 quarter. Things are likely to have been trickier still in Q4, as crypto prices dropped so low that mining companies in China were reported to be selling off machines because the cost of power to mine was lower than the reward for doing so.

Bitmain has diversified into non-mining services, to its credit, but its efforts to grow Bitcoin Cash — a controversial fork of Bitcoin — have been controversial and likely loss-making, to boot.

The price of Bitcoin Cash is currently $162 at the timing of writing, that’s down significantly from around $2,500 one year ago. That doesn’t bode well for Bitmain’s investment into the cryptocurrency, and it likely explains why the company has made layoffs, like others in the crypto space.

What a difference four months can make. The challenge for the company’s (apparent) new CEO is certainly a daunting one.

But Bitmain’s struggle isn’t unprecedented. Just this week, its closest rival — Canaan — was linked with a U.S. IPO. The company had planned to go public in Hong Kong last year but it allowed its application to expire as crypto market prices went south.

There’s plenty to watch out for in the mining space in 2019!

Editorial note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

News Source = techcrunch.com

1 2 3 14
Go to Top